Objective: This double-blind, placebo-corrected clinical pilot study was aimed at assessing the use of hypocotyls of cruciferous Andean plant Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon), in alleviating symptoms of menopausal discomfort experienced by women in early post menopause as measured by profiles of serum hormones: Luteinizing Hormone (LH), Follicle-stimulating Hormone (FSH), Estrogen (E2) and Progesterone (PG) and as assessed by Greene's Menopausal Index.
Design: Study was conducted on 20 Caucasian healthy early-postmenopausal women volunteers during the three months period (Trial I) and on eight women during nine months period (Trial II). Hormone levels were determined in blood with a simultaneous assessment of menopausal index at the start of study, after one month use of placebo, and after two and eight months administration of 2g gelatinized Maca root powder (Maca-GO) in the form of two 500mg hard gel capsules, twice daily.
Results: In comparison to placebo, after both, two and eight months administration of Maca-GO capsules to EPMW, level of FSH significantly (P<0.05) decreased with a simultaneous significant (P<0.05) increase in the LH level, resulting in significant (P<0.05) increase in both E2 and PG, after eight months of Maca-GO treatment only. There was a significant (P<0.05) placebo effect resulting in an elevated PG level after one month administration of placebo capsules. Changes in hormone levels was accompanied by substantially-reduced feeling of discomfort associated with menopause, although, there was a distinctive, positive placebo effect as judged by responses to Greene's questionnaire.
Conclusions: It is reasonable to suggest that Maca-GO when used in EPMW, depending on the length of use, was acting as a toner of hormonal processes as reflected by decrease in FSH and increased LH secretion, which stimulated production of both ovarian hormones, E2 and PG and resulted in a substantial reduction of menopausal discomfort felt by women participating in the study, with a distinctive placebo effect, thus, fully justifying further, more complex study on effectiveness of Maca-GO as a reliable alternative to HRT program.
Keywords: hormones; maca (lepidium peruvianum); plant alternative to HRT; post menopause.